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Brainstorm Commune with the Beast Merit

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  • Brainstorm Commune with the Beast Merit

    EDIT: I ended up rewriting the merit for readability/conciseness in the next comment.

    I've been trying to come up with a good Commune with the Beast merit for a while. Here's what I've come up with so far.

    Commune with the Beast
    Prerequisite: Must be Gangrel
    Description: The Beast is something all Kindred must learn to live with. Most experience it as a heightening of certain drives and emotions -- a simple consequence of becoming one of the hungry dead, theirs just howls and screams. In most mouths, "The Beast took over," sounds a lot like "The Devil made me do it,". But you know better. "The Beast" is not a term of art -- it is a seperate thing. You know because your Beast speaks to you. And it is articulate. Your Beast advises in whispers and growls and will guide you to become a most efficient predator. You may Activate this merit for free once per chapter. All subsequent Activations costs a Willpower.

    Effect: At the start of one of your turn, Invoke this merit by rolling the difference of your Humanity and Blood Potency as a reflexive action. The merit remains Active for a number of turns equal to the the number of Successes + 1. You may spend a Willpower to extend Activation by three turns. On an Exceptionalf Success, the merit remains active for the entire scene. Failures are active for one turn and yeild the Tempted Condition upon Deactivation. A Dramatic Failure results in Frenzy.
    • While active, your Beast guides your actions and you gain a +BP bonus to all mundane rolls and resistances.
    • So long as the merit is Active, your Beast leaks out to contaminate your surroundings, subtly guiding events in your favor and taking advantage of momentary openings. You may Invoke by reflexively spending a Willpower and count three successes as exceptional.
    • At the end of the Activation period, you may spend a Wilpower to Invoke the merit and keep it Active for the same number of turns agian.
    Drawbacks:
    • The First Taste is Free: If you spend Willpower to Activate, or extend the period of activation, then upon deactivation take the Tempted Condition. Each extension adds to the Tempted Condition's cumulative -1 penalty to resist Frenzy.
    • Each Invocation replaces one of your normal dice with an Atrocity die.
    • If an Atrocity Die contributes to a Success, your vampiric nature leaks out. Pick an appropriate aspect of the Beast; your action is contaminated by this aspect. The more Atrocity Die contributing, the more tainted the success is. If only Atrocity Die succeed, your action betrays your vampiric nature in some unforeseen way. On an Exceptional Success, consisting of only Atrocity die, you owe the Storyteller a Breaking Point.

    Obviously this really breaks for anyone with BP over 5. But I don't think that will come up in our game at all.

    I'm worried that the merit is too overpowered, but I think I made it Willpower-heavy enough to offset that. It incentivises characters at the extremes of BP and Humanity, and high Willpower. The dynamic I see it implementing is Neonates constantly scrabbling to up their BP, Ancillae with 3 BP are quickly losing their Humanity and low on Willpower, and then Elders around 5 have a really bad imposter syndrome because they've come to rely on Communing too much (they also have probably spent all of their xp on keeping their Humanity up.)

    My goal is to make a good merit that trades Humanity for power. What do y'all think? How would you change it?
    Last edited by DubiousRuffian; 03-03-2019, 10:07 PM.

  • #2
    I decided to rewrite the merit, because it was so goddamn long and technical.


    The main idea is that the Gangrel enters a more sane version of Riding the Wave, to get two benefits. First, a +BP bonus to skill rolls for as long as the merit is active. Second, they can get Exceptional Successes on 3 Successes. Aside from the first activation per Chapter, all uses of the merit cost Willpower. All uses of the merit give you Atrocity Die and make you more likely to act like an asshole. Relying on the merit makes you more prone to Frenzy.

    How's this?

    Commune with the Beast

    Process:
    • Invoke the Beast to gain a +Blood Potency modifier to all mundane skill rolls and resistances.
    • Roll the difference of your Humanity and Blood Potency as an Instant Action to determine the base activation period. The merit is Active for a number of turns equal to the number of Successes + 1. You may also spend a Willpower to extend the base activation period by three turns.
    • While the Merit is Active, you may reflexively Invoke the Beast to count 3 Successes as Exceptional.
    • At the end of the activation period, you make Invoke the Beast again to keep the merit Active for the base activation period again.

    Drawbacks: Whenever you Invoke the Beast, replace one of your normal die with a black Atrocity Die. The first Invocation per chapter is free. All subsequent Invocations cost a Willpower. If you use Willpower to Activate or extend the base activation period, take the Tempted Condition upon Deactivation. Each extension adds to the Condition's cumulative -1 penalty to resist Frenzy. The first Invocation per chapter is free.

    Atrocity: When rolling, if Atrocity Dice contribute to a Success, your vampiric nature leaks out. Pick an appropriate aspect of the Beast; your action is contaminated by this aspect. The more Atrocity Die contributing, the more tainted the Success is. If only Atrocity Die succeed, your action betrays your vampiric nature in some unforseen way. On an Exceptional Success consisting of only Atrocity Die, you owe the Storyteller a Breaking Point. You may discard Atrocity Die after they succeed.

    I am mostly worried about clarity and the merit being too overpowered or overcomplicated. Is the Tempted Condition portion too much?

    All criticism and ideas are appreciated.

    Comment


    • #3
      How central is this idea going to be to the themes of your campaign? because this sounds like it could be more than a merit. It could be an interesting modification to the nature of the Beast, perhaps even replacing Riding the Wave. If so, you could make this a Gangrel feature rather than a merit.

      If you still want to keep it a merit though, you need to specify a dot rating.


      A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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      • #4
        I'm honestly not too sure that it's entirely central, but it easily could be.


        The main conflict for my game's Gangrel is shaping up to be between acceptance vs self-actualization, and whether "finding a home" is compatible with freedom. Jade's defining feature so far has been her sense of obligation. Her mortal family has very rigid expectations for how a lady should act and they all take her for granted. Her vampire relations all want something from her and expect her to fall in line.

        If she peaces-out on the mortal family, she'll lose her touchstone. If she abandons her vamp-fam, she'll lose a lot of material support.

        Meanwhile, her player really enjoys fetch-quest/supernatural weirdness type-stuff.


        I think the merit could help give the player a needed boost when things spiral out of control, as well as add a lot of drama in the roleplaying. I figured it would be a one-dot merit like the other clan-specific merits. The power-level scales with BP, which takes a lot of XP to level-up.
        Last edited by DubiousRuffian; 03-05-2019, 12:08 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Alright. Some more questions.

          Was it purposeful that someone with low BP and high Humanity could get a large dice pool for this, even if the +BP bonus is pretty small?

          Would you consider restricting the kind of rolls this can benefit to what rolls Frenzy usually benefits? Using this for subtle Manipulation-based social rolls, academic research, etc. seems unflavorful for the Beast, even a smarter one. Intimidation, overpowering seduction, feats of physical prowess, even stealth, seem like good rolls for it to help. In essence, only helping in whatever makes them more effective predators.


          A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

          Comment


          • #6
            Sorry this answer is so long:

            Was it purposeful that someone with low BP and high Humanity could get a large dice pool for this, even if the +BP bonus is pretty small?
            A couple reasons. Overall, I was thinking that the merit would work to funnel someone closer to frenzy in the short term, low humanity in the long term.

            So first, it's a lure to incentivise use. If you're at 1 BP/7 Humanity (like my player is), why risk the Atrocity for a +1 benefit? This way, rather than a tool of desperation, it's something that's easy to slip into. Nice and gentle, easy to slip into.

            Then, I like the possibilities that open up as your BP rises.

            If you're at 5 BP, at best you will get 3 turns active with humanity from 7-3. At a high BP, you're probably working with a mid-to-low humanity. So you're
            • A) only occasionally using the merit,
            • B) Constantly dumping XP into Humanity (either a hedonistic Daeva-like person, or a cold wolf in sheep's clothing-type predator, depending on your Willpower).
            • C) High willpower and Low humanity and constantly hitting breaking points and constantly leaning on the merit (you're an imposter who's ready to explode)
            • D) Low Willpower/Low Humanity and either a survivalist or about to become a Draugr
            Mid BP, where the story will probably head, is a little weird. If you rely on the merit, you're constantly running low on willpower -- already a real bad addict. Or, the temptation to use it is constantly there -- either you very rarely use the merit (and I like this dynamic because it's a conscious choice to turn away), or you're a functioning addict who is one bad day away from slipping.

            I don't have a good in-world explanation. Something about the balance of The Beast and The Man.


            Also, I'm willing to change any of the above, just so long as it helps the downward spiral and is cool (or just dramatic and cool). If it's a mechanic that just scales with BP, it could lead to a very different story than the one I've got above. Rather than a gentle descent into addiction, it's a story about a neonate who avoids the merit like the plague until she uses it in desperation and the discovery


            Would you consider restricting the kind of rolls this can benefit to what rolls Frenzy usually benefits? Using this for subtle Manipulation-based social rolls, academic research, etc. seems unflavorful for the Beast, even a smarter one. Intimidation, overpowering seduction, feats of physical prowess, even stealth, seem like good rolls for it to help. In essence, only helping in whatever makes them more effective predators.
            So, my original inspiration was in the corebook's fluff text. It mentions that the Gangrel are some of the wisest and most insightful Kindred. The bonus only applying to skills (and it's not adding dots, so skill penalties still apply) was the operationalization of that.

            I also don't like pigeonholing the Gangrel as bikers, truckers, and survivalists. I like the idea of the Gagrel as coming in every flavor of predatory. I wanted the merit to apply to a wide range of actions to facilitate a wide range of predators.

            I originally considered throwing a line into the fluff-text about the merit only working on predatory actions but decided against it because of overall word-count. Also, I'm not sure how to properly adjudicate what's 'predatory' or not. Doing research as an extended action might benefit if you're facebook stalking. Going through your rival's accounting records so you can sink his buiseness seems like the sort of overall action that would benefit from a predatory outlook -- patience, carefulness, looking for weakness.

            Why should the Beast be animalistic? I don't see why it couldn't adapt to the urban jungle.

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